Shocks and Struts

Shocks and struts are basic components of the suspension system in most cars. The function of a car’s suspension is to provide steering stability and good handling, and to enhance passenger comfort. It does this by maximizing friction between the tires and the road surface. Not all vehicles have both shocks and struts. Some vehicles have just struts, some vehicles have only shocks and some vehicles have both. Shocks are part of the overall suspension and a strut is a complete suspension assembly.

What do shocks and struts do?

shocks and struts

The shocks and/or struts in your vehicle perform two functions: they dampen spring oscillation (that is, they reduce bounce) and they aid in ride control and vehicle handling.

It is the springs in your vehicle’s suspension system that actually absorb road shocks; not the shock absorbers. The shock absorber’s function is to dampen the bouncing spring. It helps dissipate the vibration of an impact through the car’s springs.  If there were no shock absorbers to dampen the spring oscillations from road shock your vehicle would continue to bounce every time you hit a bump in the road. This would make it very difficult to handle the vehicle and also very dangerous.

The shock absorbers in your car aid in ride control by keeping the car manageable during regular driving. They do this by keeping the tires down on the road and not allowing them to bounce after hitting a bump. This allows for ease of cornering and handling.

How the Shocks and Struts Work

Your shocks provide resistance by forcing hydraulic fluid through the valves in the piston as it moves up and down. Because the fluid cannot be compressed, only a certain amount of it can be forced through the valves. This creates resistance to the vehicle movement.

Struts are actually part of the car’s suspension system, attached to the chassis. They are basically a shock absorber mounted inside a coil spring. They actually provide structural support for the car’s suspension, so they deliver more than shocks alone. Shocks only control the speed at which weight is transferred within the car — not the weight itself.

Premium shocks and struts are superior to standard hydraulic shocks because air in the shock is replaced by pressurized nitrogen gas. This helps to prevent bubbles from forming inside the hydraulic fluid. Bubbles will reduce the ability of your shocks in regards to providing resistance and preventing bounce.

Do My Shocks and Struts Need to be Replaced?

Shocks and struts gradually wear out even under normal conditions. However, many factors can impact how much wear is actually taking place and at what rate the excessive wear is occurring. A vehicle driven short distances in town will not be exposed to as much wear as one that is frequently driven on country roads which are winding and bumpy. Your shocks and struts will need to be replaced if they are worn out, damaged or leaking.

Shocks and struts that are worn out not only affect the comfort level of the driver and passengers, but worn shocks and struts can affect the amount of control of the vehicle and its effectiveness in braking. Performance Auto Repair can inspect your suspension for signs of wear and repair or replace worn shocks or struts affordably to keep you safe.

Signs of Worn Shocks and Struts:

•Vehicle “rolls or sways” on turns.
•Front end “dives” when braking.
•Rear end “squats” during acceleration.
•Excessive bouncing crossing an intersection or dip in the road.
•Vehicle rocks back and forth after coming to a quick stop.
•Vehicle rocks side to side after quickly changing lanes.
•Vehicle drifts left or right after applying brakes firmly.
•Vehicle “feels like it is leaning” excessively when driving around tight curves.
•Vehicle bounces or slides sideways on a winding or rough road.
•Vehicle “bottoms out” on bumps, backing out of a driveway or hauling extra weight.

Driving with worn shocks and/or struts can accelerate the wear of your tires and suspension parts, including, the ball joints, steering linkage, springs and C.V. joints. The longer you wait before having the shocks and/or struts replaced the more damage can be done.

Many components can be contributed to the overall handling characteristics displayed by your vehicle; however proper functioning of the shocks and/or struts is essential to the handling and cornering of your vehicle. When experiencing any of the warning signs listed above, having your vehicle inspected is a great preventive maintenance. Doing so will help prevent parts wearing out and make them last longer. Preventative maintenance is essential to eliminating the effects of worn shocks and/or struts. It is a good idea to have your shocks and/or struts inspected on a regular basis.

Inspection of the Shocks and Struts Include:

•Checking for leaks from the shock or strut. If the component is losing fluid it cannot provide the proper amount of resistance.

•Checking for dents on the shock or strut body. If the component is dented it will not be able to function properly.

•Checking for abnormal tire wear. Tire cupping and high or low spots that appear around the boundary of the tire can often be caused by ineffective or worn out shocks and struts.

•Checking for “coil clash”. Shiny spots seen on the contact point of the safety bumper and marks found between the coils of the spring.

•Checking for crushed rubber bumpers. When a vehicle “bottoms out” it will crush the rubber bumpers.

•Checking for worn out rubber mounting bushings. If the rubber mounting bushings are worn out the component will not function properly.

•Checking for shock or strut mounts that are broken or loose. If the component is not connected firmly at both ends it cannot function properly.

•Checking for damaged, pitted or broken piston rods. If these are found, the part will not be able to function properly and should be replaced.

Get the Shocks and Struts Service You Need to Stay on the Road

Driving your vehicle on worn out shocks or struts is just as dangerous as driving with bad brakes or bald tires. Studies have shown that worn shocks increases the distance it takes to stop a vehicle on a rough surface and attributes to “skidding” on wet or slick surfaces.

That’s why it makes sense to partner with a team that has the experience, training and equipment to provide our customers with the shocks and struts service they need — fast. Performance Auto Repair in Montgomery, Alabama carries all major brands of shocks and struts.

Call Performance Auto Repair of Montgomery today at (334) 245-6600!